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Read Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady Volume III Part 3

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They should conclude she is gone off by her own consent, that they may not pursue us: that they may see no hopes of tempting her back again. In either case, mischief might happen, you know.

But you must take notice, that you are only to open the door with your key, in case none of the family come up to interrupt us, and before we are quite gone: for, if they do, you’ll find by what follows, that you must not open the door at all. Let them, on breaking it open, or by getting over the wall, find my key on the ground, if they will.

If they do not come to interrupt us, and if you, by help of your key, come out, follow us at a distance; and, with uplifted hands, and wild impatient gestures, (running backward and forward, for fear you should come up too near us, and as if you saw somebody coming to your a.s.sistance,) cry out for help, help, and to hasten. Then shall we be soon at the chariot.

Tell the family that you saw me enter a chariot with her: a dozen, or more, men on horseback, attending us; all armed; some with blunderbusses, as you believe; and that we took quite the contrary way to that we should take.

You see, honest Joseph, how careful I am, as well as you, to avoid mischief.

Observe to keep at such a distance that she may not discover who you are. Take long strides, to alter your gait; and hold up your head, honest Joseph; and she’ll not know it to be you. Men’s airs and gaits are as various and peculiar as their faces. Pluck a stake out of one of the hedges: and tug at it, though it may come easy: this, if she turn back, will look terrible, and account for your not following us faster.

Then, returning with it, shouldered, to brag to the family what you would have done, could you have overtaken us, rather than your young lady should be carried off by such a —— And you may call me names, and curse me. And these airs will make you look valiant, and in earnest.

You see, honest Joseph, I am always contriving to give you reputation.

No man suffers by serving me.

But, if our parley should last longer than I wish; and if any of her friends miss her before I cry, Hem, hem, twice; then, in order to save yourself, (which is a very great point with me, I a.s.sure you,) make the same noise as above: but as I directed before, open not the door with your key. On the contrary, wish for a key with all your heart; but for fear any of them should by accident have a key about them, keep in readiness half a dozen little gravel-stones, no bigger than peas, and thrust two or three slily into the key-hole; which will hinder their key from turning round. It is good, you know, Joseph, to provide against every accident in such an important case, as this. And let this be your cry, instead of the other, if any of my enemies come in your sight, as you seem to be trying to burst the door open, Sir! Sir! or Madam! Madam!

O Lord, hasten! O Lord, hasten! Mr. Lovelace! Mr. Lovelace!–And very loud–and that shall quicken me more than it shall those you call to.–If it be Betty, and only Betty, I shall think worse of your art of making love* than of your fidelity, if you can’t find a way to amuse her, and put her upon a false scent.

* See Vol.II. Letter XXIX.

You must tell them that your young lady seemed to run as fast off with me as I with her. This will also confirm to them that all pursuit is in vain. An end will hereby be put to Solmes’s hopes: and her friends, after a while, will be more studious to be reconciled to her than to get her back. So you will be a happy instrument of great good to all round.

And this will one day be acknowledged by both families. You will then be every one’s favourite; and every good servant, for the future, will be proud to be likened to honest Joseph Leman.

If she should guess at you, or find you out, I have it already in my head to write a letter for you to copy,* which, occasionally produced, will set you right with her.

* See Vol.III. Letter XXI.

This one time be diligent, be careful: this will be the crown of all: and once more, depend, for a recompense, upon the honour of

Your a.s.sured friend, R. LOVELACE.

You need not be so much afraid of going too far with Betty. If you should make a match with her, she is a very likely creature, though a vixen, as you say. I have an admirable receipt to cure a termagant wife.–Never fear, Joseph, but thou shalt be master of thine house. If she be very troublesome, I can teach thee how to break her heart in a twelvemonth; and honestly too;–or the precept would not be mine.

I enclose a new earnest of my future favour.

LETTER IV

TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQUIER, HIS HONNER SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 9.

HONNERED SIR,

I must confesse I am infinitely obliged to your Honner’s bounty. But this last command!–It seems so intricket! Lord be merciful to me, how have I been led from littel stepps to grate stepps!–And if I should be found out!–But your Honner says you will take me into your Honner’s sarvise, and protect me, if as I should at any time be found out; and raise my wages besides; or set me upp in a good inne; which is my ambishion. And you will be honnerable and kind to my dearest young lady, G.o.d love her.–But who can be unkind to she?

I wil do my best I am able, since your Honner will be apt to lose her, as your Honner says, if I do not; and a man so stingie will be apt to gain her. But mayhap my deareste young lady will not make all this trubble needful. If she has promissed, she will stand to it, I dare to say.

I love your Honner for contriveing to save mischiff so well. I thought till I know’d your Honner, that you was verry mischevous, and plese your Honner: but find it to be clene contrary. Your Honner, it is plane, means mighty well by every body, as far as I see. As I am sure I do myself; for I am, althoff a very plane man, and all that, a very honnest one, I thank my G.o.d. And have good principels, and have kept my young lady’s pressepts always in mind: for she goes no where, but saves a soul or two, more or less.

So, commending myself to your Honner’s further favour, not forgetting the inne, when your Honner shall so please, and good one offers; for plases are no inherritanses now-a-days. And, I hope, your Honner will not think me a dishonest man for sarving your Honner agenst my duty, as it may look; but only as my conshence clears me.

Be pleased, howsomever, if it like your Honner, not to call me honest Joseph, so often. For, althoff I think myself verry honnest, and all that, yet I am touched a littel, for fear I should not do the quite right thing: and too besides, your Honner has such a fesseshious way with you, as that I hardly know whether you are in jest or earnest, when your Honner calls me honnest so often.

I am a very plane man, and seldom have writ to such honourable gentlemen; so you will be good enuff to pa.s.s by every thing, as I have often said, and need not now say over again.

As to Mrs. Betty; I tho’te, indeed, she looked above me. But she comes on vere well, natheless. I could like her better, iff she was better to my young lady. But she has too much wit for so plane a man. Natheless, if she was to angre me, althoff it is a shame to bete a woman, yet I colde make shift to throe my hat at her, or so, your Honner.

But that same reseit, iff your Honner so please, to cure a shrewish wife. It would more encurrege to wed, iff so be one know’d it before-hand, as one may say. So likewise, if one knoed one could honnestly, as your Honner says, and as of the handy-work of G.o.d, in one twelvemonth–

But, I shall grow impertinent to such a grate man.–And hereafter may do for that, as she turnes out: for one mought be loth to part with her, mayhap, so verry soon too; espessially if she was to make the notable landlady your Honner put into my head.

b.u.t.t wonce moer, begging your Honner’s parden, and promissing all dilligence and exsackness, I reste,

Your Honner’s dewtiful sarvant to command, JOSEPH LEMAN.

LETTER V

MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. ST. ALBAN’S, MONDAY NIGHT.

I s.n.a.t.c.h a few moments while my beloved is retired, [as I hope, to rest,] to perform my promise. No pursuit–nor have I apprehensions of any; though I must make my charmer dread that there will be one.

And now, let me tell thee, that never was joy so complete as mine!–But let me inquire, is not the angel flown away?

O no! She is in the next apartment!–Securely mine!–Mine for ever!

O ecstasy!–My heart will burst my breast, To leap into her bosom!

I knew that the whole stupid family were in a combination to do my business for me. I told thee that they were all working for me, like so many ground moles; and still more blind than the moles are said to be, unknowing that they did so. I myself, the director of their princ.i.p.al motions; which falling in with the malice of their little hearts, they took to be all their own.

But did I say my joy was perfect?–O no!–It receives some abatement from my disgusted bride. For how can I endure to think that I owe more to her relations’ precautions than to her favour for me?–Or even, as far as I know, to her preference of me to another man?

But let me not indulge this thought. Were I to do so, it might cost my charmer dear. Let me rejoice, that she has pa.s.sed the rubicon: that she cannot return: that, as I have ordered it, the flight will appear to the implacables to be altogether with her own consent: and that if I doubt her love, I can put her to trials as mortifying to her niceness, as glorious to my pride.–For, let me tell thee, dearly as I love her, if I thought there was but the shadow of a doubt in her mind whether she preferred me to any man living, I would shew her no mercy.

TUESDAY, DAY-DAWN.

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